As You Were

It’s one of two phrases I remember from ROTC, the other being “Firepower is bullets hitting people.”  “As you were,” is friendlier and much more useful, a universal reset button, usually meaning “Forget what I just said.  Don’t know what got into me,” or, sometimes, “Go on about your business; I was never here.”  A blog really should preserve a train of thought that existed at the moment of writing, and it’s probably bad form to go back and tamper with it.  However, when I glance at prior postings, especially fairly fresh ones, and find a typo or misspelled word or see that I accidentally set a bear trap with a snarled bit of syntax, I tend to repair it, so long as the patch doesn’t contradict what I meant to say at the time.

In “Hatchet Job,” the story of Helen Jewett, I hope I didn’t give the impression that James Gordon Bennett, Sr., was the epitome of impartial and even-handed reporting, far ahead of his time.  As a newspaper editor, he was ahead of his time, but he was also a vocal champion of Richard Robinson, the man who had almost certainly committed the murder, reasoning that a nice-looking, well-born young man was not capable of committing such a heinous deed.  “I know him, and he couldn’t have done it,” is a sentiment commonly heard from some neighbor in almost every murder case since then, but in this instance it was was expressed in the pages of the New York Herald by its editor.  By the way, in titling the piece, I was referring to  the later atrocities committed in the press and in the courtroom, as much as the crime itself.    

Very recently, while reporting on Zaccheus Lovewell in “West by Northwest,” I concluded by musing that Moody Bedel Lovewell may have ventured into the Ohio Valley because, “since his father and grandfather had helped to win the prize, he might as well claim his share of it.”  It was exactly what I meant to write, because, as a ranger in the French and Indian War, Moody’s grandfather Nehemiah had helped the English take control of lands watered by the Ohio River, while Nehemiah and his son Zaccheus had fought to make it independent from England.  Yet, since there was that other Zaccheus Lovewell, Nehemiah’s uncle, the Colonel Lovewell of Kenneth Roberts’ novel “Northwest Passage,” I substituted the phrase “since his ancestors had helped…” and let it go at that.  The more I try to differentiate one Zaccheus or Nehemiah Lovewell from the next, the dizzier and sleepier I get, and I’m afraid it may be catching.     

A few days back, I noticed that in writing about the evolution of the family surname between Robert Lovell’s day and his son’s, I had inadvertently called John Lovewell’s father “Robert Lovewell.”  I hadn’t done it consistently, which made the lapse even more confusing, so I mended it.  Other than that, I let the entry stand as is, even though I now suspect that the premise might not be true.  I grow increasingly doubtful that John Lovewell’s father was Robert Lovell.

Poking about on genealogy websites on the right-hand side of the pond, I’ve found English Lovewells who, while in general agreement that all Lovewells used to be Lovells, believe that America's Lovewells descend from three brothers who were already using the newly-minted surname when they sailed to the American Colonies.

There’s a microfilmed document on its way that may set the record straight.  If it tells me what I think it will, I’ll owe some folks a great big, “As you were.”  


© Dale Switzer 2023